Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Kurdish Problem, Again

The signals coming out of Turkey's predominantly-Kurdish southeast region and from along the border with Iraq are not comforting. In recent weeks, Turkish soldiers are being on an almost daily basis in attacks by the resurgent Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey's state-run news agency happily reports that 46 PKK members have been killed in the past month, failing to mention that most of them are also young Turkish citizens whose bodies will be returned home to be buried and mourned. Turkish jets have been bombing targets in Northern Iraq with increasing regularity, while Today's Zaman reports that military checkpoints have now been reintroduced in the southeast and that a previously-abandoned ban on herders taking their flocks up to the region's high plateaus has also been reinstated.

It seems like the hope and good will created by the Turkish government's "democratic opening," a reform initiative announced last summer that's mostly designed to deal with the decades-old Kurdish problem, has very quickly evaporated. Cengiz Candar, an astute analyst whose warnings are worth listening to, writes in a column in today's Hurriyet Daily News:
The democratic initiative is not going anywhere. It has come to a halt, deviated even. We have an endless number of signs showing that we are back to the square one....
....The pre-1990 conditions settle in the Southeast again. We are going back to a state in which people are fed up with check points and barricades.
The full column (worth reading, though poorly translated) is here.

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